State Fair Recycling and Environmental Sustainability Efforts
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State Fair Recycling and Environmental Sustainability Efforts

An Introduction to NSF Environmental Sustainability

The Nebraska State Fair (NSF) is an annual 11 day event with attendance welcoming over 350,000 attendees each year from all over the state and region. Established in 1868 the Fair continues to showcase people, talent, and products of Nebraska. The Fair began environmental efforts by recycling used fryer oils in the 1990s. Nebraska State Fair progressed from oil recycling to a Zero Waste Event status in 2014, 2015, and in 2016! The Fair's Sustaiinability Plan has spurred expansion of recycling, education and sustainability efforts yielding measurable and truly amazing results! Thanks to support from hundreds of volunteers, multiple partners and supporters, diversion efforts have increased each year since 2012. That's a big deal! The Fair's annual survey finds that, amongst other things, more than 88% of Guests find it important or very important that the NSF has a recycling program. We accept feedback and suggestions from all sources as we seek ways to grow our Recycling and Sustainability Plan and to inspire Nebraskans to do the same. Please let us know if you or your organization is interested to bring your environmental messaging to the 2017 Nebraska State Fair:

2016 Sustainability Pavilion Photo Pages
2017 Invitation to Participlate Sustainability Pavilion (downloable pdf form)
2017 Sustainability Pavilion Request to Participate (downloadable pdf form)
2017 Sustainability Pavilion Request to Participate (on-line form)


NSF Weighing in and Diverting from the Landfill

  • Plastic 1.56 (tons) in 2016

    Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy than incinerating it.
  • Cardboard 2.53 (tons) in 2016

    Every ton of paper recycled saves more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Co Mingled plastic/cardboard/alum 4.91 (tons) in 2016

    TOTAL Co-mingled plastic & Cardboard 33.46 (tons) since 2012
  • Animal Waste/Bedding 1033 (tons) in 2016

    Animal waste and bedding is composted to produce enriched soil compost which is sold to area ranchers and residents.
  • Used Fryer Oil 900 (gallons) in 2016

    The amount of Biodiesel created from used fryer oil is enough to power a VW Jetta on a trip from San Francisco to New York City ....27 times!
  • Aluminum Cans 1088 (pounds) in 2016

    Two-thirds of the aluminum ever produced is in use today. 33 12oz aluminum cans = 1 pound
  • Food Waste Compost 1300 (pounds) in 2016

    Food waste is used to enhance the composting process for livestock bedding.
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    NEW in 2016

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    Marketplace Sustainability Pavilion was designed and created by Garth Britzman. The colorful fabric is teated with Eco Active Fresh. With the Eco Fresh treatment, the canopy breathes in dirty, smelly, polluted air and exhales clean, fresh air through the treated fabric. This canopy used advanced chemistry and innovative technology to improve air quality by removing pollutants, contaminants, and smells. The Pavilion canopy provided shade for a covered a stage area and included recycle learning and entertainment with an environmental focus.

    Food Waste Composting began in 2016. State Fair Concessionaires sorted their food waste and it was used to enhance the composting process for the livestock bedding.

    Previous Interactive Exhibits at the NSF

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    In 2015, NSF worked with EpochLabs to produce an interactive sustainability attraction. The exhibit focused on the sustainability themes of food, water, energy and waste. The exhibit included information on the current NSF environmental efforts and future goals.

    In 2014 Fair guests helped to construct a plastic bottle dome throughout the Fair. At the end of the Fair, the sculpture showed how quick plastic bottles become used and on site education stressed the importance of keeping these bottles out of the landfill. Basic recycling education was included and the dome was a compelling way to get Guests to have a hand in the process of keeping bottles out of the landfill.

    Annually, the NSF hosts a number of contests where Exhibitors create projects that relate to recycling and/or sustainability. A few examples of our contests include the Recycled Garden, upcycling in Textile Arts and Group Art bottle cap projects.

    NSF Environmental Certifications and Awards

    • NSF has been certified as a Zero Waste Event (2016, 2015 and 2014 Fairs).
      • Zero Waste Certification is when an event diverts at least 90% of their waste from the landfill.
    • Keep Nebraska Beautiful (KNB) Environmental Business, 2016
    • WasteCapNE Sustainable Business, 2015
    • International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) Sustainability, 2013

    NSF Environmental Partners

    • Bike Barn, the Bike Barn is where you left your bicycle while you were enjoying the Fair. Riding your bike to the Fair (and other places in town) saves fuel and pollution in our community.
    • Recycled Garden Displays at the Fair showed Guests that they CAN find and re-use an item or material that some would consider trash.
    • Chief Industries, designed, created and donated 11 flower pot trellises made from recycled/scrap steel.
    • Kramer's Iron was our aluminum recycling hauler. They provided the crushed can cube in the 2016 MP Sustainability Pavilion. The crushed can cube is made up of 37,414 aluminum cans and weighs in at 1,069 lbs.
    • Izaak Walton provided a recycled bottle bird feeder make and take.
    • Nebraska Screw Press provided consulting and service for NSF oil recycling. They provided education about grape seed oil and other general environmental consulting.
    • O'Neill Wood Resources hauled and composted the livestock bedding as well as the Concessions Food Waste Composting (FWC) in 2016.
    • Omaha Bio-Fuels COOP was a new partner in 2016. They collected, hauled and processed our fryer oils. We recycled over 900 gallons of fryer oil in 2016.
    • Second Nature provided 130 outdoor plastic bottle recycle bins for the Fair in 2016.
    • WasteCap NE provided consulting and networking for NSF sustainability efforts.
    • Volunteers assisted with cardboard collections during State Fair set up.
    • Vendors sorted their waste so it could be recycled.
    • Guests participated by sorting their waste on the Fairgrounds as well.


    Funding Support for NSF Environmental Efforts

    • Casey's General Store
    • Grand Island Community Foundation
    • Innovative Grant Services, Kris Vrooman
    • Keep America Beautiful (KAB)
    • Nebraska Academy of Sciences, PIE
    • Nebraska Environmental Trust
    • Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ)
    • Nebraska State Recycling Association (NSRA)

    Future Environmental Projects

    • Solar powered street lights for main boulevard and entry gates around campus.
    • Solar and wind power demonstrations
    • Focus on residential, agricultural, and commercial sustainability efforts and education.
    • Food waste composting
    • Corn cob building block sculptures (community art display)
    • A mobile learning pavilion focused on transportation and the need to buy local
    • Recycling Loading Dock
    • Trash and Recycling Compactors
    • Other ideas and suggestions are welcome from all sources!
    • Contact us at (308) 382-1620 to get involved, donate, or tell us how these efforts have inspired you!

    Why Recyle?

    Recycling is one of the best ways for you to have a positive empact on the world in which we live.
    The amount of rubbish we create is constantly increasing.
    * Think about how much product packaging materials have changed over the past 20 years.
    *Do you think society is more or less likely to consume fast food regularly, what about the packaging of our fast food restaurants?
    Waste has a huge negative impact on the natural environment.
    *Harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses are released from rubbish in landfill sites.
    *Recycling can help to reduce pollution caused by waste.
    *Recycling requires less energy than processing done with raw materials.
    Preserve natural resources for future generations. Recycling reduces the need for raw materials; it also uses less energy, therefore preserving natural resources for the future.
    Recycling saves energy, water and the environment.

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